Domenici-Meserve Review of NRC Licensing Process for New Nuclear Reactors Finds No Unnecessary Regulatory Delays

Former Senator and BPC Fellow Domenici and former NRC Chair Meserve Undertook Review at NRC Chairman Jaczko’s Request

Contact: 

Paul Bledsoe
(202) 637-0400
pbledsoe@bipartisanpolicy.org
Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Former Senator and Bipartisan Policy Center Senior Fellow Pete Domenici and former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Dr. Richard Meserve today released a letter “finding no evidence that either the NRC or industry has needlessly delayed or extended the licensing process” for new nuclear reactors.

The Domenici-Meserve independent review, conducted at the request of NRC Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko, involved interviews of NRC staff and former NRC commissioners, representatives of reactor vendors, applicants for Combined Operating Licenses (COLs), nuclear engineering firms, and representatives of environmental and other organizations that have actively engaged in the licensing process. Domenici and Meserve also hosted a half-day forum to which a broad group of stakeholders was invited to discuss issues raised during the individual interviews and to elicit additional views and comments.

“Our review found that the NRC licensing process is generally sound,” said Domenici. “We hope that some of the lessons learned in the processing of initial applications will result in changes that will improve the process, making it even more transparent and efficient.”

“Given that new-plant licensing had been dormant for many years due to lack of applications, we believe the NRC has done an excellent job resuscitating the process,” Meserve said. “A number of our recommendations are aimed at having the NRC provide the clearest possible guidance to applicants in order to minimize delays.”

While in general complimentary of the NRC process, Domenici and Meserve made a series of detailed recommendations for ways in which communication between the NRC and applicants could be improved. In response to the Domenici-Meserve letter, NRC Chairman Jaczko wrote his own letter noting that the Domenici-Meserve “independent report will be of great assistance to the NRC as it assesses and seeks to strengthen its licensing review process.”

Full text of the Domenici-Meserve letter and Chairman Jaczko’s reply letter are available at:

http://bipartisanpolicy.org/library/workshop-material/nrc-licensing-review